Jump to content
  • Welcome to the eG Forums, a service of the eGullet Society for Culinary Arts & Letters. The Society is a 501(c)3 not-for-profit organization dedicated to the advancement of the culinary arts. These advertising-free forums are provided free of charge through donations from Society members. Anyone may read the forums, but to post you must create a free account.

Day 3 - St. Agrève - Apr 2002


Bux
 Share

Recommended Posts

The first stop on our tour was the Domaine de Rilhac, just outside of St. Agrève. It was a tour designed to let us sleep late, not spend any time on the autoroutes and little time behind the wheel each day. It was designed to get us to three specific restaurants--one that we know and love and two that are famous, but new to us--and to sample a bit of the "background" food of the area.

The Domaine de Rilhac, a farmhouse in an exceptionally quiet and rural location, has one Michelin star and a rating of 15 as well as an appealing write up in GaultMillau. Although we used the 2001 editions of both guides in planning most of our trip, the new editions which we picked up on arrival remain basically unchanged with the exception that the heart shaped "favorite" designation is now shown. The 2002 GaultMillau is now hard bound. That's appreciated as the old one was hard to deal with by the end of the year. We found a simply furnished rustic timbered room (64 euros) with a comfortable bed, a great stall shower in the bathroom and a warm and pleasant welcome. Five of the ten tables in the simple but tasteful dining room were occupied that evening, apparently all by guests staying at the inn. There were two British couples, a British threesome, a Swiss family with three boys and us.

There were wonderful views of the mountains which should be especially rewarding when the sun sets very late in June and July. The air was crisp. There were still few buds on the trees in this early pre spring, but the birds were chirping away in the rural silence. We took a few short walks on lanes and paths, one of which led to an abandoned tree house. We tried out the lawn chairs behind the house, but it was too chilly to stay long.

The house cocktail was a St. Peray with chestnut liqueur. Not bad and a change from Kir, but it won't become my standard aperitif. The waiters were young, but eager to please. One of them mumbles terribly however and the Assiette tout chocolate came out as "'lace a' cho'lat, 'teau 'choc'lat, 'choc'lat, 'choc'lat," but it needed no explanation.

Four interesting menus are offered, but no "carte." The gastronomic menu was offered with a choice of two or three courses, cheese and dessert. The other menus were set. A regional Ardeche menu offered snails in a garlic cream and stuffed oxtail with vin de Cornas sauce. It's tough for me to resist that kind of cooking, but GaultMillau's recommended foie gras flavored with marc de l'Hermitage was harder to resist and we took the Gourmet menu. Esilda chose the fish and crayfish in a saffron sabayon. I had hoped it would be a local freshwater fish, and thought of changing my selection to the beef carpaccio with a sauce of reduced Cornas when I was told it was cod, but that would have limited our wine to selections by the glass.

The foie gras was excellent but it came with some zucchini ribbons and peas in a vinaigrette which were not a match to the glasses of Beaumes-de-Venise we ordered. Eaten apart after the foie gras and wine were finished, the salad was refreshing. Without the wine, it might have also complimented the foie gras. I was a bit surprised to find zucchini again, this time in strips, as a bed for the fresh cod. There was a bit too much saffron in the sauce and it verged on "metallic" though not enough to ruin the dish. A good selection of cheeses with a few local and regional specialties followed, although most were not as ripe or flavorful as I would have liked. At 49 euros with the aforementioned plate of four chocolate desserts it seemed a good value. Adding the carpaccio would have brought the price up to 66 euros. The Ardeche menu ran 34 euros with two courses plus cheese and dessert. It, I suspect would have been the "value" meal. The euro was worth about eighty-eight cents while we were there and prices include tax and service. Perhaps it's not a restaurant that would rate a star in Paris, nor is it a destination, but we were content to relax in the countryside and it was a good choice for us that night.

Robert Buxbaum

WorldTable

Recent WorldTable posts include: comments about reporting on Michelin stars in The NY Times, the NJ proposal to ban foie gras, Michael Ruhlman's comments in blogs about the NJ proposal and Bill Buford's New Yorker article on the Food Network.

My mailbox is full. You may contact me via worldtable.com.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

In their way the little hotels and restaurants are as pleasing and delicious as those multi-starred destinations of gastro-pilgrims.

Robert Buxbaum

WorldTable

Recent WorldTable posts include: comments about reporting on Michelin stars in The NY Times, the NJ proposal to ban foie gras, Michael Ruhlman's comments in blogs about the NJ proposal and Bill Buford's New Yorker article on the Food Network.

My mailbox is full. You may contact me via worldtable.com.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Five of the ten tables in the simple but tasteful dining room were occupied that evening, apparently all by guests staying at the inn. There were two British couples, a British threesome, a Swiss family with three boys and us.

Bux - I'm always suspicious of places where locals or other French don't seem to eat. I'm guessing this was a Tuesday night in which case being half full is fine.

I hope to put my Belcastel notes together this weekend (we had the same menu so direct comparisons will be made :raz: )

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I'm always suspicious of places where locals or other French don't seem to eat. I'm guessing this was a Tuesday night in which case being half full is fine.

The Domaine de Rilhac is a couple of kilometers outside of St. Agrève, a town of only 2700 inhabitants. My guess is that there's not that much local dinner trade in the area and that during the middle of the week at this time of year, it may even be surprising that there were that many rooms occupied. You're suspicions are valid, but I've been in plenty of fine restaurants and inns whose support was dependant on travelers.

For a city dweller like myself, I can't discount the added appeal of the rural setting. I should be posting about Le Vieux Pont later today.

Robert Buxbaum

WorldTable

Recent WorldTable posts include: comments about reporting on Michelin stars in The NY Times, the NJ proposal to ban foie gras, Michael Ruhlman's comments in blogs about the NJ proposal and Bill Buford's New Yorker article on the Food Network.

My mailbox is full. You may contact me via worldtable.com.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

 Share

  • Recently Browsing   0 members

    • No registered users viewing this page.
×
×
  • Create New...